There is a member in our current gaming group that has been difficult to deal with and I would really appreciate some advice. For context: We are a group of four people, including the DM, and have been playing Pathfinder for well over a year now. Age-wise we are in our late-twenties to early forties, with myself being the youngest player. I am a player, as is he. (Let’s call him Kevin.)
Kevin's character has been ridiculing mine throughout the campaign. Sometimes it’s mean-spirited, often it’s just utterly nonsensical and without basis. He frequently presents her as stupid (her Intelligence is 12 – so, no genius, but still above average) or mocks her for things she never did. Examples include throwing sticks and shouting “Careful, snake!” because according to him, she is afraid of snakes (she isn’t) or making jokes about her always pooping her pants (something she never has).
It’s both bewildering and annoying and it really puts a damper on roleplaying the character, because any real or perceived weakness will instantly be turned into a stupid joke. Same with any “peace offering”. Heck, last session we did a mock magic-duel in front of an audience in honour of his god (my idea and he liked it). My character tried to be supportive, tried to make him look cool, because hey, it was supposed to be his show. (i.e., I deliberately failed a few saves in the beginning.) Meanwhile, Kevin's character tried his best to humiliate her in front of the audience.
To boot, I am the only girl in the group. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it outright sexism, there is a really icky/degrading vibe to a lot of those jokes. (Slapping her awake with sausages when she is unconscious or pouring water over her pants to make it look like she peed herself.) It's not inherently sexual, but it still feels gross.
All in all, none of those jokes are horrible, but they aren't funny either and they just keep piling up, basically every session. And again, most of the time they do not even make sense.
Kevin's character has done some name-calling or trolling to NPCs or the other remaining PC as well, but only once or twice. I’m his prime “target”. The other players think he behavior is a bit rude, but don't feel strongly enough about it to speak up and I don't want people to 'pick a side' in this, tbh.
The main problem is that it is really hard to tell “player-voice” and “character-voice” apart with Kevin. He is very hard to read as a person and very tight-lipped, getting any information out of him is like pulling teeth. When I tried to talk to him about his “jokes”, he acted surprised and implied he was just roleplaying his character. (He has 6 Charisma.) I’m not sure I buy it, since some of the jokes have been meta (like gifting me a oversexed joke-mini with no similarity to my PC because: “look, it’s her!”) and he isn’t even roleplaying anything else. (And we have yet to see that 22 Wisdom roleplayed in any form…) After our talk, it got better for a short while, but now he is right back to normal.
I have tried “playing along” and reacting in-character. This has included storming off crying and generally acting upset and hurt. Kevin’s character acted disinterested and called her overly emotional and, again, stupid for it. (Whereas Kevin himself seemed mostly amused, because he provoked me/made me ‘lose’? I don't even know, to be honest.)
All in all, it’s not bad enough to be a deal breaker. The rest of the group is fine, the adventure is cool and he is just one guy. I don’t want to blow it out of proportions by involving the whole group. But it is, frankly, annoying and I don’t know how to deal with it. Any advice?
Thank you for the extensive feedback and advice. I was blow away by how seriously you took this, since I was afraid I was just being whiny and paranoid. Your reaction really made me reevaluate the whole situation and I realized that I have actually been kind of a doormat throughout this whole campaign. This needs to change. ASAP.
Most of you suggest bringing it up with the DM. I don’t want to do that yet, since it is pretty much an official accusation and will probably escalate things. But I did bring it up with the one remaining player, “Josh”. He agreed that Kevins behavior was out of line and promised to support me and speak up the next time it happened.
(There has been some comments whether his or the DMs behavior is “cowardly” and while I do appreciate your fervor, I think I need to defend them a bit here. Josh and I have been Rpg-buddies for a long time and we play well off each other, precisely because we are both very “live and let live” with loooong fuses. This may not always be the best way to deal with stuff, but we avoided a lot of drama with that approach in the past. Do I wish he would have spoken up on his own? Maybe. But in the end, he’ll have my back. As for the DM, Kevin is a challenging player in general and not easy to assert any “authority” over. He might just be picking his battles. Again, maybe not optimal, but hey. We are all only human.)
This evening (CEST) we will have our first session since I posted this question. If Kevin tries any of his “humor” again I will speak up at the table. You guys gave me great advice and material on what to say and how to phrase it. A lot of bullies back off when facing open resistance. Maybe just showing him that I won’t be his easy target any longer will solve this. If not, step two will be involving the DM. And step three will be quitting the group, if nothing else helps.
I’ll keep you updated.
Posted recent - and hopefully final - developments of this mess as an answer.